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Friday, 13 October 2017

No better Replacement 6


My eyes squint open when I feel someone tapping me gently. Slowly recovering my vision, I
notice Tucker, crouching in front of me. I quickly hug him, not caring if he was mad, I really
needed a hug from him, “Tucker, I’m sorry”
He lifts me up, “I know, you said that in all of your voice messages.”

“Oh.” I’m quite embarrassed; I could be really persistent if I wanted to be
“In loving memory, Deanna Rivers, wife and mother.” He reads and I turn to the headstone.
“She…she’s gone, she can’t even hear me anymore, my mom is…gone.” More tears roll downmy cheeks and I’m starting to think if the eye ever gets dry,
“She’s not gone, she can hear you. She just can’t speak you know, she’s dead.”
“Yeah, I know”
“Well, say your goodbyes, we’ve got a lot of talking to do but not in front of your mother.”
He drives to the old city park as I direct him and we sit on the old deserted swings,
“There’s a lot I don’t know about you,” he looking at me and it’s hard to answer when he’s
staring like that, like he’s really disappointed, I guess he is. I would be if I saw him drinking
with his ex and making ridiculous deals.
“Fine, ask me anything,”
“What happened with Chelsea? Why’d you hit her? What happened to being invisible?”
“Well, first off, she came onto me, blocking my way and calling me a bitch to my face.”
“She called you a…what’s her deal anyway?”
“She’s just a jerk, she’s jealous of Sophie.”
He sighs and looks ahead, “Again with the Sophie thing, I can’t hear this again.”
“You asked,”
“Yeah, I did.” A long awkward silence, then he fills it with, “So you drink? That’s one tiny bit
you failed to mention.”
“It’s because I don’t do it anymore so there was no need bringing it up.”
“What happened to your hand? Your knuckles are bloody,”
“Yeah, I was hitting at my mom’s headstone, I think I needed to feel the pain.”
“You know what, last night at that bar, it seemed like I didn’t know you, that you were this
new girl with a lot of problems, you…I dunno” he shakes his head, “is there like something
about your past that’s hurting you?”
“No, nothing,” this was obviously a lie. The whole Henry thing was the reason why I became
like this, quiet and invisible in school
“You sure? What even happened with that Henry guy, I only know he broke your heart but I
don’t know why.”
“There’s nothing to say Tucker, he’s just an ass.”
“How, what’d he do? I’m not letting this go, I can see that it upsets you.”
“It doesn’t upset me. Look, Henry, I’m so over him”
“Then whys it so hard to look me in the face and tell me what he did?”
“Because he cheated! Alright? He cheated on me. Sophie wanted to get back at me for the
Connor thing and she slept with him. Happy?” I didn’t like lying to him and I didn’t like
yelling at him too but he had to believe me, I didn’t want to bring up the whole Henry thing,
the real issue, he can’t know what happened, he’d definitely hate me like everyone else, I
start crying again and he stands from his swing and crouches in front of me. “Stop crying”
We move to the rusty park bench and I lie on his laps while he pats my hair, “I’m sorry, now
I understand why you’re always about Sophie. I’m really sorry you had to go through that.
I’m here for you okay? You won’t go through anything alone again and Sophie is not a
threat to us.”
I really hoped he meant that but I couldn’t help feeling guilty for lying too, if only I could
erase some things from my life, I would erase Henry first and then, Higgins.
“How did you know to find me at the cemetery?”
“Well, I went over to your house looking for you after school. Sophie said you went for a
walk and if I didn’t see you nearby, you were probably going to be at the cemetery.”
“She’s actually a really good person you know, it’s not her fault everyone likes her,”
“Not everyone, I don’t”
“Stop hating on her because of me, I’m fine.”
“I’m not hating on her because of you, she’s nice but she’s not my type of girl.”
“And what’s your type of girl?”
“Wild hair,” he touches my hair, “green eyes, emotional loner chic” we both laugh and he
pulls me up, “I need to look at you.” When I’m finally facing him, he goes “You’re beautiful
Natalie and you’re great, like really great. You have a sense of adventure and you think out
of the box. You’re not desperate, God I hate desperate girls.” He sighs and continues “You’re
just…I dunno, super great. You helped me unpack my room, really, anytime I’m in there, I
always think about you like everywhere I turn. I sincerely couldn’t have asked for more.
When my dad died, I thought there was no replacement whatsoever, I couldn’t love anyone
else but since I met you, you’re all I think about; even my mom is getting tired hearing
about you all the time. I really really like you Natalie, I mean it.”
“I know. Thanks for really really liking me.”
He’s smiling at me and I’m happy he’s happy. He leans forward and kisses me so
passionately, Goosebumps starts coming out of both our skins.
“We get Goosebumps just kissing each other,”
“I noticed.” He whispers and continues
The drive back home was quiet. Not the awkward kind of quiet, just quiet. He was focused
on the road while I was focused on him. Watching him drive and feeling so satisfied that
he’s mine. When he turns to me and sees me smiling, he smiles back and then he winks and
my heart fluttered that instant. He was in my street now and I wished he’d just keep driving
so I can watch him. But he pulls up in my driveway, “Your family’s worried about you.
Promise me you’d make their worries stop.”
“I can promise anything when you’re looking at me like that Tucker.”
He drops a quick peck on my lip then his face goes serious, “I mean it. You have to promise
to be good. whenever you feel like lashing out, just call me, I’ll always be here.” When a tear
roll down my cheek, Tucker smiles and wipes it with his thumb, “You’re beautiful.”
“You can’t say that.” Then more tears follow and Tucker brings my face to his and kiss me,
“Stop crying.”
I stopped crying and we hugged.
“I’ll be waiting by your locker tomorrow.”
“Goodnight Tucker.”
Sophie and Jake weren’t home but Nate was, I hadn’t seen him since everything.
“Hey you,” he’s sitting on the long couch in the living room and he’s typing on his phone. I
wonder if I looked like I just made out with Tucker. I toss the thought out of my mind and
sit by Nate on the couch. He finally looks up from his phone, “How are you feeling?”
“Great, I guess”
He nods and goes back to texting
“I’m sorry if I put you in a lot of trouble, with Higgins and Dad and Chelsea too, I know she’s
your friend.”
He looks up again, “Don’t apologize, you’re hurting, I get it. It was weird that you drank
with Henry but everything else, totally understandable.”
“So, you’re not mad at me?”
“And dad?”
“Dad’s being dad, he’s worried and he’s called me over five times just this evening.”
“Well, what’d you tell him?”
“That you’ve been sleeping and I’d call him immediately you wake up.”
I hug myself, “I didn’t mean to make him worry.”
“No Lee,” he places his hand round my shoulders, “you don’t say that. Mom died and we
know she was the closest person to you. It was going to take a while before you lash out
and Dad didn’t want to be out of town when it happened but he was, that’s why he has to
worry. He took the risk of leaving and that’s his problem. Just be you okay?”
“I’m just so scared, living life without mom, it sounds risky.”
“Well, you have me, and dad, and Jake, and Sophie and I can’t believe I’m saying this but you
have Tucker too, we’re all here for you and together, we’ll get through this, okay?”
“Sometimes I forget I have you,” I hug him
“Never forget that. Oh, dad’s calling. Hey dad, yes she’s here.” He hands me the phone
“Hey dad”
“Lee honey, I shouldn’t have left you, are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine.”
“Are you sure, do I come home? I’m not done here but I want to be there for you.”
“I’m fine dad, there’s no need. I’m good, Nate’s here, he can testify.”
“Alright sweetie. Talk to Nate okay? And if you don’t want to, talk to Sophie or Dory, or call
me, just talk to someone. Principal Higgins had suggested therapy but I know you don’t
need therapy, you’re fine and I know you’re strong too.” I miss him, I actually wish he could
come back but mom’s gone, his job is the only thing he can hold on to right now, and us, but
we’ve both got our separate lives ahead and I’d regret it if I take dad’s from him.
“Daddy? I miss you,”
“I miss you too baby. I’d wrap things up here real quick and I’ll be home soon, okay?”
“Okay,“Put your brother on the phone.”
I hand the phone back to Nate, “he wants to talk to you.”
“Hey dad, uh not yet. We will, okay. Goodnight.” He hangs up, “he wants us to go to Aunt
Dory’s for dinner.”
“Natalie, are you feeling okay? This garlic chicken is really good. Right Nate?”
“It’s good but the sauce though, tastes weird.”
My phone starts ringing and Aunt Dory frowns, “no cell phones on the table.”
“Sorry,” I quickly bring it out to hang up but when I see the caller, I don’t.
“Please, can I be excused?” I didn’t wait for them to say anything; I leave the dining room
and rush to the bathroom down the hall.
“Natalie, I need you right now. Can you come down here now?” the sound of his voice had
my hands shaking. He sounded sad, really sad.
“Is everything okay?”
“No, just come. Please.”
“I’m at Sophie’s for dinner and it’s a really long walk to your house.”
The phone goes dead and I’m left uncertain what to do, I’d never heard him sound that
worried, something was definitely wrong but how was I going to leave dinner and get
there? I go back to the dining and quickly text Nate: Can we bail on dinner? Pls it’s
I see him read it and look up at me.
“No phones,” aunt Dory’s saying again
“Sorry aunt, we’ve got to go.” Nate stands from the table, “sorry it’s just I had plans with
this girl and she just texted me she’s over at the house and I can’t keep her waiting.”
He beckons, “Natalie?”
“Don’t you think it’s too late to have a girl over? I hope she’s not spending the night.”
“I hope she does.” Jake and Sophie laughs and Nate leads me out of the house.
“Thanks Nate, can you drive to Smith Way?”
He starts the engine, “what’s going on at Smith Way? That’s where Tucker lives?”
“Yes. Thanks for this, that lie was really cooked up.”
“No, it’s not a lie. Freya’s coming over tonight.”
“She is? And you didn’t think to let me know?”
“I was going to on our way back.” He grins. “This is where Tucker lives? Neat.” Nate parks in
the street and I hurry down, “thanks,”
“I’m not still okay with this!” He drives off.
After my third knock on Tucker’s front door, I start yelling his name, “Tucker! Mrs. Weller?
I give up and I’m taking out my phone to call Nate back when I see someone waving at me from the house beside Tucker’s. “Hey!” I could make out the voice of a woman but I couldn’t
see her, it was pretty late. After hesitating for a while, I go over to the house and see an old
woman, probably in her late fifties.
“Oh, hello. I saw you knocking at the Wellers; I’ve seen you here before. Are you a friend of
her son?”
“Well, they’re not home. I don’t know what happened but I think he took Mrs. Weller to the
“To the…okay, what?”
“I don’t know what happened but he carried his Mom into his car and drove off hurriedly.”
“Oh my God.” I collapse on the porch, my heart pounding really loud, I’m sure the woman
could hear it. This cannot be happening. Maybe it’s nothing major, maybe she just had an
headache but why would Tucker carry her if she’s got an headache? Oh Lord!
A tap on my shoulder reminds me I’m not alone. The old woman takes my hand and raise
me up, “Look, instead of getting sad, why don’t you go to the hospital? There’s a close one
down this road, it’s the only hospital on Smith’s way and some streets after. I’m sure that’s
where he took her.”
Yeah, I’d better do that. “Okay. Thanks, Mrs.?”
“Mrs. Perry, now go.”
I ran as far as my legs could carry me down the long Smith way and notice the hospital at
the far end of the street, mocking me like hospitals do since mom’s death. There was no
way I could go back so I walked in and the sight of Tucker’s Lexus made my steps
automatically quicken. He was sitting in the waiting room, his head on his knees. “Tucker?”
He looks up and immediately he sees me, runs to hug me. When he finally lets go, I see he’s
“Tucker, it’s going to be okay. What happened?” we both sit on the hospital’s waiting chairs.
“I don’t know, I came home and I didn’t see her. I thought she wasn’t home so I went up to
my room. But then, I heard something fall off in her room so I rushed there and she was flat
on the ground, with a yellow plastic.” He pauses, “It was empty.” His voice breaks and I rub
his shoulder.
“Don’t worry, she’ll be okay. It’s just drugs; they’ll get it out of her system. Stop worrying.”
“How can I not worry? My dad’s dead, now my mom’s…”
“Stop, she’s fine, she’ll be fine.” I knew how he felt, this was how I felt when Mom was
brought but there was a clear difference. In my case, I knew mom was going to die. Tucker
doesn’t know that and I’m pretty sure his mom won’t die.
“You ditched your dinner? How’d you get here, how’d you know I was here?”
“Let’s forget about that for now. I’m here.”
He leans in and kisses me, “I like you a lot Natalie, I do, I’m even thinking of proposing to
Pro-what? He’s kidding. “You’re kidding right.”
His lips find mine, “I…” Someone clears throat in front of us and we look up to find
“Mrs. Weller?” she was on her feet and looked pretty okay.
“Mom!” tucker jumps on her and she hugs him back, “I’m really sorry Tucker, I promise I’d
never do that again.”
“You promise?”
“I promise. Come on Natalie, join in the hug.” I felt happy and protected in the circle and I
felt even happier that she called me by my name. tucker drives home and we tuck his mom
to sleep,
“goodnight mom,” he kisses her forehead and turns off her light
“I should get you home,” he starts going downstairs and I stop him,
“No, I want to stay here. Nate has a girl home anyway.”
“Really? Are you sure?”
I nod, “it’s not like it’s the first time.”
“True.” We enter his room and I lay on the bed. I was starting to feel sick, the event of the
day had really worn me out.
“I’m going to take a shower, care to join?”
“Um, no thanks.”
“I’m not asking, you’re my girl, you can take showers with me, come on.” He takes my hand
and leads me to the bathroom. I’d never showered with a guy and I felt weird but it wasn’t
weird at all; Tucker made me feel like it was just a usual thing. He washed me and I washed
him and we kissed and it was perfect. When we’re done, we rummage through his closet
and I pick out a big t-shirt while he takes out a boxer and we simultaneously put them on.
Taking my hand, he pushes me on the bed till I fall and later falls on top of me
“Tucker? You could have hurt me.”
“I’d never hurt you babe.” He rolls over to his side and smiles. That killing smile. “Thanks
for today.” it comes out as a whisper as he traces my hand with his finger.”
“No Tucker, I should thank you.”
Another warm smile and a brief peck on my cheek, “goodnight babe.”
“Goodnight Tucker.”

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